Did you know that humans can be a source for renewable energy?  

Description of the project

Etymologically, DIABETHANOL is a combination of the word “diabetes” (a metabolic disease in which the body’s inability to produce any or enough insulin causes elevated levels of glucose in the blood) and “ethanol” (a colorless volatile flammable liquid C2H5OH that is the intoxicating agent in liquors and is also used as a solvent and in fuel—called also ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol).

DIABETHANOL is an artistic project that begins with the curiosity of converting diabetic urine into a renewable energy source—bioethanol. The idea derives from an Indonesian saying, “Mengambil kesempatan dalam kesempitan” which can be translated into something like ‘take a chance in a tide’. The saying is actually neutral. It can be used both in a positive and a negative condition. In a negative manner, the phrase is used for people who are benefiting out of someone else’s difficult situation. In a positive manner, the phrase means ‘make best out of something’.

Urine is human body’s waste. Like waste in general, it is not something that is generally used in life. DIABETHANOL aims to make use of this waste, or simply ‘recycle’ it. By ‘recycling’, DIABETHANOL actually converts the waste into environmental friendly commodity—biofuel.

As the home of many developing countries, Asia is busy juggling with the fact that they have to consider saving the world by cutting carbon emissions, meaning using less harm energy sources and, at the same time, pushing their economic growth in order to create a prosperous life for their people. It is said that the common cause of Diabetes Mellitus (DM) are nutrition transition and sedentary lifestyle.

At the same time, another worldwide discourse speculates that the decrease of oil stock is growing faster and faster due to the fact the world is over populated and urbanization is happening everywhere. Many people think (and have used) bioethanol as their solution towards energy crisis.

DIABETHANOL then become an artistic project to exhibit just a small sample from many irony of our reality today.


Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from the Australia-ASEAN Council and the Australia-Indonesia Institute of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Image credit : silversalt photography